Beating up the quarterback is the name of the game; as well as protecting the quarterback.
That's the name of the game right ? Many of the good defenses have multiple pass rushers. Why ? Because if you beat up the quarterback of the opposing team, then you don't really need a top 5 quarterback yourself. This is basically the model that allowed Seattle to dominate Denver. They got a really hard hit on Peyton Manning early in that game and Peyton was never the same.
This isn't about the Sea Hags or the No Shows though; this is about games that are won or lost based on getting to the quarterback.
Getting to the quarterback makes everyone better on that side of the line of scrimmage. It allows the corners to play tighter. It allows the linebackers to make plays and it allows the safeties to cover more ground. Quite simply beating up the quarterback of the opposing team makes life on everyone else pretty easy.
The Cardinals did a pretty good job last year getting sacks from multiple positions. This may have been more about the genius of scheming a multiple defense, by Todd Bowles.
Along the D-Line: Dockett had 4.5 sacks, the combination of Dan Williams and Ta'Amu had 1 sack. Calais Cambell had 9 sacks. From their linebacker crew, they tallied 28.5 sacks with 6 different players; only a little more than half their sack total. They were number #6 in sacks in the league with 47. Much of the Cardinals success this year was due to getting to the quarterback with multiple players up front. They were better at it than Seattle, the Broncos and the 9ers.
So who can we count on to get to the quarterback in 2014 ? You would imagine that the 4 beasts on the front line will be back in 2014, the D-Line players I mentioned previously. Beyond that they have quantity, but do they have quality ?
Abraham and Dansby had great years but they are another year older and Dansby is a free agent. They have DWash but he could potentially miss the entire season due to suspension. They have an unproven and inexperienced Minter. They have a couple of vets in ShagNasty and Alexander the Great special teamer who can perform specific roles. Then there's the street fighters Moch and Benard who came in off the street and got to the quarterback. Finally, they have the Texas scooter patrol; Acho and Oakafor.
Dansby will have to be re-signed given the pending and likely judgements to be reigned down upon DWash. Then Minter and Dansby will have to be your inside backers when both are better as strong backers. We know DWash can get to the quarterback and Dansby was in a few successful blitz packages himself. Will Minter show the skill to get to the quarterback ?
On the outside, can Abraham hold up another full season and thru-out the playoffs if they reach the promise land ? Acho, on the other hand, hasn't shown a knack for the pass rush. It is possible that he has it and we didn't get a chance to see it due to injury in current scheme. Certainly, I don't expect him to be dominant regardless; only capable. His Texas deputy Oakafor had shown a good pass rush in college. Can he come in and beast it up on the edge, in the pros ?
The linebacking core proved to have a lot of depth. Is it enough quality though ? Are they lacking that superstar rusher ? Todd Bowles proved more than capable of scheming pressure on the regular and from all over the place. Is it possible for him to scheme pressure that good a 2nd year in a row ?
The answers to these questions may provide the answer to what the Cards biggest need is and if the Cards can beat up the quarterback in 2014. Hopefully that's the case because the name of the game is still about getting to the quarterback as well as protecting the quarterback.....for now.